Sunday, June 26, 2016

June 26, 2016

As many of you know, recently I took a bit of a ‘respite from reality’ with a bit of solitude. I was completely off the grid for three days. I did not see so much as a single Facebook notification or receive a recruiting update. My telephone was incapable of ringing and no emails made it through ‘Airplane Mode’ during my brief escape.

I feel compelled to divulge some honesty – this was a trip more about self-actualization than solitude. While I am disinclined to say Maslow had his hierarchy as accurate as some, I do believe that the Buddhist concept of self-actualization is, or should be, a goal of all mankind, regardless of religious orientation.

A part of this is recognizing our faults as much as our strengths. In fact, I think understanding our faults is far more critical to this than simply reciting those areas which we think our strongest (often inaccurate or misguided anyway). As such, as my fiftieth birthday approached last week, I have spent the better part of the last 12 months trying to get a better sense of my own place in the world – and as a writer covering Oregon recruiting.

The thing is, I know the criticisms. I have read them. I still do. People here are pretty low-key and tend not to criticize moderators from a global perspective. Some of my decisions here might have been openly questioned, but no one here has really said much about me as an individual. I am, in many ways, grateful for the manner in which I am treated at DSA. Needless to say, the impression others have is quite different. I have taken account of those complaints.

Truth be told, some of it can be attributed to a variety of factors. So what is the criticism? Well, it probably comes as little surprise, but there is a large segment of people who find my approach to be somewhat condescending and arrogant. Condescending? Almost surely this can be said to be true – on occasion. There have been times in the past where I have spoken as such with purpose. As a mod, that is something which I should avoid, but the weakness of my own humanity sometimes generates an attitude of disdain which is then expressed through sarcastic condescension. Nature of the beast, I suppose.

Arrogant? In my humble opinion, I think this characterization is off base. I think that the problem here is one of definition. By definition, arrogant means: Having or displaying a sense of overbearing self-worth or self-importance. Were it to be true that I had such self-feelings, then I could concur with the description. But I think, upon deep introspection last week, that this definition does not accurately reflect my personality.

I tend to have very strong opinions; usually these opinions are based somewhere upon some facts or factoids I have seen. And when I have opinions based upon facts, I tend to then argue my point to a fault assuming no one could logically disagree. Despite those tendencies, I do not see myself as superior to anyone. We all have our strengths; we all have our weaknesses.

There could be others (my ex wife is an example) who feel that the manner in which I speak (in the case of DSA, write) lends itself to the descriptive term of arrogant. Were I to spend countless posts correcting grammar, syntax, punctuation, etc., this might be a fair descriptive term. In no way does my choice of writing style indicate I feel myself better than others, only that I make attempts at adequate grammar.

Have there been times I have defended my grammar against what I perceived as unwarranted assault? Surely as the sun also rises. Again, this is not arrogance so much as my own actual weakness – insecurity.

The most humorous is the description of me being ‘all about the arms’ which could not be further from the truth. Firstly, I am uncertain how anyone could come to that conclusion, unless all they did was Facebook stalk me and look at a few pictures taken largely pout of context.

But first to WHY it is untrue. As many know, I was a power lifter for many, many years. During the 20+ years I spent as a power lifter, I did not perform a single bicep curl. I could have cared less about my arms as they were incidental to performing bench press. I wore sleeveless t-shirts to the gym because I felt that sleeves inhibited my movement. I also wore them at the beginning of tailgates because my workout shirts mostly also happened to be my Duck t-shirts and they lent themselves to BBQ’ing better than did a polo shirt which I would need to wear into the press box.

I found the odd fascination with my arms to be kind of funny, I suppose. But the strange part is that in the thread which this ‘criticism’ was posted was a misplaced concept. To wit 1) I rarely do interviews, not my thing; 2) In the interviews I have done, I am not sleeveless. I dress professionally in the press box and to after game press conferences.

Why do I care enough about the thoughts of others to share this here? Because I want to be better as a person, a moderator here, and as a writer in general. Do I think that there are some qualities I bring that I feel others might appreciate? Of course, otherwise I would not do those things.

One of the things I do here is write from different angles. As I mentioned in flock talk this week, football is a diversion, there is real life happening out there. I don’t delve into politics or economics, but there are issues much bigger than who the hell came on campus for a visit this week. And sometimes, those events have a natural tie in to what I can write. A.J. has given me a lot of latitude or Flock Talk as long as I always keep it tied to recruiting. I am eternally grateful for that support.

I feel a bigger responsibility than merely reporting about recruits. But to think that I over value my own self-worth is actually the opposite of reality. I know the truth: despite five years of writing for DSA, not a single person has come to me to write for them – I am just a guy writing about Oregon football. I am not someone for whom everyone is clamoring to have write for them. I get it, I am who I am. And that is okay. As a sports writer, my value is exactly who I am. As a human, I feel I can always be a better person.

I am now fifty. Younger than some; older than others. Indeed, I am the sum of all my experiences. Where do I go from here? I keep writing. I keep trying to be better at the craft and I keep trying to be a better man.

Eloquence and erudition do not make a man arrogant; they simply make him eloquent and erudite. It is when those qualities are tainted by the over-exaggerated image of self when arrogance is an apt description. Given that I do not see myself as ‘better’ than just about any other writer, I do not believe it an accurate depiction of my own reality.

I am certain, however, that this characterization will continue. That’s okay. What I did learn about myself is that it really does not matter much what some feel. I write for Duck Sports Authority. So why did I care enough to check out what people at other sites had to say? Because I want DSA to be the absolute best it can be. If we are losing subscribers because they dislike my style, then I want them to come back. I want them to see value in the site.

For that reason, I have made significant efforts to be much more conciliatory in tone and mannerisms. Like all, I make my own errors. To own and accept those errors, I think, is an important step.

Oh, and as for my arms, I weigh like 165 pounds now, so, I am hardly the man who can be accused of being ‘all about the guns.’


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